How Cam Newton’s contract with the Patriots affected Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. … [+]
The New England Patriots’ quarterback situation, having suffered their first loss since 2000, has recently come into focus. In the early stages of the off-season, this was a possible reunion with Jimmy Garoppolo.
Things seem to have taken a dramatic turn on this front as the NFL Free Agency is set to open in the next few days. That includes New England choosing to re-sign their quarterback Cam Newton with a one-year contract worth up to $ 14 million.
To say this is surprising would be an understatement. After sustaining both a shoulder and Lisfranc injuries in the latter stages of his career with the Carolina Panthers, Newton signed a one-year $ 1.75 million deal with New England last July.
He responded by making eight touchdown passes against 10 interceptions in 15 starts and adding 12 points on the floor. The former NFL MVP appeared to be a shell of his former self, leading to speculation that New England would leave him after a season. That obviously didn’t happen.
What the Cam Newton Contract Means for Patriots Quarterback Situation
It seems New England didn’t want to wait around with quarterback. The free agent market in this position is thin. They also weren’t able to beat Matthew Stafford and Carson Wentz before making blockbuster trades earlier in the off-season.
However, all of this has a fairly large component. Newton’s new contract with the Patriots includes incentives. It’s not just a one-year $ 14 million contract. We’ll have to wait for the details, but it’s safe to assume that his base pay is just backup quarterback money – an upgraded version of last year’s deal.
The Patriots must spend north of $ 70 million below the 2021 NFL salary cap. Reality tells us that this Newton treaty will cut into this one by a very small margin. What does that mean? New England isn’t done buying seasoned quarterback options.
New England Patriots can still do a piece for Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo could still be in the game for the Patriots. (Photo by Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)
This is the main setting for New England and the San Francisco 49ers. The two were connected in a near-endless loop after ending their disastrous performances in 2020. Obviously the link contains a Jimmy Garoppolo.
Several former Patriots players have come out in favor of the idea of trading Garoppolo after sending him to San Francisco in the middle of the 2017 season. It’s also now clear that head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t an advocate of the Garoppolo trade. He considered the earlier round two election to be Tom Brady’s heir.
Fast forward a few years and Garoppolo could possibly be in a store. Despite their opposite public stance, the 49ers have been looking for an upgrade since the beginning of the off-season. The 29-year-old Garoppolo has had an injury-ridden 2020 season in which he missed all but six games due to injuries. He has failed to transform himself into the elite signaler that San Francisco expected when he was traded for him in 2017.
Complicating matters even further from the 49er’s perspective is that Garoppolo is expected to count towards the cap in 2021 at $ 26.4 million. For a team with more than 40 free agents and in a less than outstanding cap, this does not seem to be sustainable.
The problem here is that San Francisco doesn’t want to restructure or renew Garoppolo’s contract as that would tie him financially with the team beyond the 2021 season. At the moment, General Manager John Lynch and Co. would only suffer a dead cap of $ 2.8 million from the publication or trading of Garoppolo. That changes with an expansion or restructuring.
What does it all mean? If the 49ers find an upgrade at Quarterback, Garoppolo could still very well be available. It is this delayed process that likely resulted in New England pulling the trigger on Newton in the first place.
That in no way means that Garoppolo is off the table for New England. Assuming the Newton Treaty is structured as I outlined above, then it is likely to be reviewing the backup money without most of these incentives.
A deal for Garoppolo would cost New England roughly $ 25 million against the 2021 NFL salary cap. This is a non-starter. Rather, the experienced quarterback would have to agree to a minor contract extension and thereby lower his upper limit. It’s part of the conversation when it comes to a hypothetical trade.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation remains unresolved
The 49ers could still do very well with Deshaun Watson. (Photo by Carmen Mandato / Getty Images)
It can be argued that San Francisco’s sedentary lifestyle on the quarterback front is directly related to Deshaun Watson’s situation in Houston. Although the Texan star has requested a deal, Houston’s brass has refused to discuss deals with interested teams.
That is an important setting here. Simply put, the length of time between San Francisco and New England to work out a Garoppolo deal just didn’t match. The 49ers are on Watson. You have probably already prepared a trade offer for Houston.
This is about how long the process was between Watson and the Texans. San Francisco won’t leave Garoppolo without a plan behind the scenes. Texans’ unwillingness to talk about a Watson deal changed the dynamic behind the scenes.
The only way San Francisco would deal with Garoppolo would be if a deal was tacitly made for Watson or someone like New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. Neither of the two options has yet been implemented.
Next week is going to be big on the 49ers quarterback front
Could Jet quarterback Sam Darnold be an option for the 49ers? (Photo by Al Pereira / Getty Images)
Suggestions are that San Francisco is also high on the aforementioned Sam Darnold. He could either be made to compete with Garoppolo for the starting job or replace the incumbent altogether.
A quarterback competition between the two in the summer wouldn’t make much sense, however.
For starters, any team that Darnold acquires would have a $ 25 million decision to make in the final year of their rookie contract in 2022.
Second, adding Darnold to the mix wouldn’t go well with Garoppolo. He’s just over a year away from leading the 49ers to a shocking Super Bowl appearance. The team’s lack of confidence in him would be compounded in this scenario and potentially end all restructuring talks.
Rather, the idea would be for Darnold to come in and replace Garoppolo in the middle. It’s expected to count about $ 5 million toward the cap in 2021, a number that would help San Francisco navigate an off-season with a lowered NFL salary cap.
Even then, it’s an open question whether head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch see Darnold as an upgrade over Garoppolo. Objectively, that would be a tough sell. It’s just not that easy. Finances would certainly play a role in this situation. It’s not a zero-sum game.
When the free agency gets going here, there will be a solution to the Garoppolo situation in San Francisco. It could lead the 49ers to follow suit with their public stance that Garoppolo will be the starter of the first week. It could also involve a blockbuster trade for another quarterback. We didn’t get any closer to a solution just because New England kept Cam Newton.
Conclusion: Jimmy Garoppolo on the Patriots is still in the game
This is a long drawn-out conclusion that Friday’s news is not moving the needle too much for either New England or San Francisco.
The Patriots could still act very well for Garoppolo while still having the financial resources to improve their fledgling list during the free agency.
San Francisco wouldn’t do a Jimmy Garoppolo deal without a specific plan behind the scenes. In fact, the 49ers pushback might suggest two things here. They’re either actually going to be sold when Garoppolo gets back in shape in 2021, or they think a deal for Deshaun Watson might be in sight.